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Natsu Basho (May Sumo Tournament) Results and Recap

The Natsu Basho wrapped up today and what a tournament it turned out to be. Not only was the winner undecided until the final day, but several rankings have been shaken up to make for an exciting tournament.

The biggest story coming out of the May tournament was the yusho (championship) race between yokozuna Hakuho and ozeki Kisenosato, both of whom were undefeated until day 14. Kisenosato, who gained the sport’s second highest rank in January of last year, had his best performance to date finishing runner-up with a 13 - 2 record and giving the eventual winner of the tournament, Hakuho, a run for his money up until the day they finally squared off.

The ozeki-yokozuna clash on day 14 was the highlight of the tournament with Hakuho uncharacteristically sidestepping just after the tachi-ai. From there the yokozuna gained the advantage with a left hand inside, right hand outside grip on Kisenosato’s mawashi (belt), but it wasn’t over yet. The yokozuna tried to swing his opponent out, planting his right foot hard into the dohyo (ring) and using his hips for leverage, but the ozeki battled back giving Hakuho a brief scare near the edge before finally being slammed hard and left laying flat on his back.

That win would be Hakuho’s 14th straight and he would go on to defeat fellow yokozuna Harumafuji on the final day to finish with his 25th career championship and his 10th zensho-yusho (undefeated championship), having now won two undefeated tournaments in a row.

This victory now puts Hakuho in third place on the all time list for most career championships, tied with Asashoryu. The record is 32, set by former yokozuna Taiho, who recently passed away in January of this year. It’s likely that Hakuho, who is still healthy and by far the most dominant rikishi (sumo wrestler) today, will challenge this record in the coming years. Another record that is within his grasp is the all time record for most undefeated championships. He is currently tied with the 65th yokozuna Takanohana II and with one more he would step alone into first place.

In other news, former ozeki Baruto of Estonia who lost his rank in January of this year due to a nagging knee injury has once again withdrawn from action, this time after his day 8 matchup when his injury acted up on him again. At this point Baruto will most definitely be demoted out of the sanyaku rankings altogether and could be looking at retirement.

Maegashira 1 ranked Myogiryu had his best makuuchi division showing of his career finishing 11 - 4 and picking up the technique prize, his fifth to date, as well as a gold star for defeating yokozuna Harumafuji. This performance will most likely land him at the sekiwake rank next tournament, which he has already held twice. Of all the Japanese rikishi on the top of the banzuke perhaps it is him who will be the next to make a run at the ozeki rank.

Speaking of ozeki, long time Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu continues to struggle just barely reaching his 8th win to save his rank on the final day with a win over fellow ozeki Kakuryu. If he hadn’t got that win today, he too would have been demoted from the rank, like Bauto.

And finally, one interesting note from the lower divisions. Osunaarashi, the first African sumo wrestler has won the makushita division title after a perfect 7 - 0 outing at the Natsu basho. The Egyptian was even able to defeat Akiseyama, who was ranked at Juryo 13 (one division higher) in his final match. In July he will gain promotion to the Juryo division, the second highest division in sumo.

The next tournament, the Nagoya Basho, is scheduled from July 7th – 21st in, of course, Nagoya, Japan. Until then, make sure to check out all of the great sumo action mornings and afternoons on Fightbox.


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